Wednesday, March 08, 2006

South Dakota and Abortion

So, South Dakota just passed a law prohibiting all abortions except to save the mother’s life. My response to this is, “Oh brother…”

I have wanted to write a longer post on my position on abortion, but that never materialized. So here is the short version.

I believe that abortion is morally wrong. It is morally wrong not because of its similarity to murder, but because the action represents an active rejection of God’s invitation to love. It seems very difficult to reconcile the act of abortion with Jesus’ urging that we love our neighbors as ourselves.

So what about the legality of abortion? Abortion is not like murder. While I reject murder on the same moral grounds, of failing to love, as abortion, the reason that we need a law against murder stems from the state’s obligation to enforce order. Society would simply cease to exist if individuals could murder one another with impunity. The parallel for abortion simply does not hold.

In fact not only is society not threatened by abortion, but laws designed to prohibit abortion actually threaten society’s morality. I firmly believe that the state should not have the power legislate morality. Travis keeps using a Janice Rodgers Brown quote, “Where government moves in community retreats…” I think this is true. I also think that where government moves in morality retreats. Although we may fail to actively sin when the state (read men with guns) prevents us from sinning, we also fail to actively love.


Lori said...

I agree that abortion is morally wrong, but wrong because it is murder! Your thought that it is wrong because it is rejecting God's love seems silly. Especially if you state Jesus urging us to "love our neighbor as our self." Loving your neighbor does not mean staying awake with them at night, feeding, clothing, loving, nurturing and sheltering them for 18+ straight years. Loving a child does include those things. "Neighbor" cannot be compared to "Mother." Sure you could say that the mother does not need to commit to life, but she certainly needs to committ to 9mos. I think that if it were accepted people would eliminate those who caused inconvenience to them, as a mother is able to eliminate her fetus for the sake of convenience. Wouldn't it be nice to eliminate the IRS (ok, I don't think so, but I know you do). So you say it's not about morals it's just about enforsing society's order, right? Although murder is illegal, there are still plenty of hitmen and women employed in the US. Should we make that legal because "where gov't moves in community retreats?" Should a Mother who delivers a child and then kills it within the first 24 hours be held criminally responsible? It seems that would not go against your theory that the state is only responsible to enforce order. I don't see that murdering a 24 hour old child would disrupt society's order. What would be the cut-off age for a mother to murder her child? Clearly, there is more at stake than just enforcing order. Gov't does have some moral responsibility to those that it governs over. Another interesting fact about abortion: In the state of Massachusetts a woman can recieve an abortion without the knowledge of her husband, but a husband must have written consent of his wife to have a vasectomy.

Michael Bangert said...


I think that you are helping me make my point. When I say that abortion is a failure to love I think that it means exactly the failure of parental love that you describe. Specifically a person understands that God is calling her to love and be loved by a child. However the person also understands that this requires nine months of pregnancy, staying up with the baby, eighteen years of parental responsibility, and ultimately a lifetime of commitment. A woman who chooses to have an abortion understands that God is calling her into a loving relationship, but rejects that relationship because of the responsibility that it requires. Her own life and happiness are more important than this potential loving relationship.

That is exactly a failure to love and it is an important sin. However, failing to love is a sin that I commit every day. Although abortion may be a more dramatic manifestation of failing to love than the sins that I commit, it is certainly the same sin. That is why I have a hard time condemning or legally punishing a person who chooses abortion.

On infanticide: Morally, the sins of abortion and killing an infant are failing to take on parental responsibility. The sin of murder is more like failing to respect the desire of another to continue living. The difference here is between failing to take on responsibility and failing to respect. Killing child falls somewhere in the continuum between the two, depending on the child’s age.

Practically, the state needs to enact laws to maintain order. A Roman father had the legal right to kill his children regardless of their age. So, there is one extreme. I doubt that there are many people who would argue for the Roman model. I really do not have very strong feelings about where we ought to draw the line, but the place where we currently draw it, at viability, seems ok to me.

lori said...

If you consider viability as the ability of the baby to live outside of the mother's uterus that is currently not where we draw the line. What is your deffinition of viability?